Opposition Turkish TV investigated for 'insulting' election coverage

A man reads Turkish newspapers a day after the presidential election day in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, May 29, 2023.
A man reads Turkish newspapers a day after the presidential election day in Istanbul, Turkey, Monday, May 29, 2023. Copyright Emrah Gurel/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved
By Sudesh Baniya
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The inquiry comes amid growing concerns over Erdogan's crackdown on media freedoms.


Turkey's broadcasting watchdog has launched a probe into opposition TV channels over their coverage of Sunday's presidential vote. 

Six stations, including Fox TV, TELE1 and Halk TV, are being investigated for "insulting the public" by the country's Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTUK).

The watchdog did not detail the insults, suggesting the action was sparked by complaints received from viewers. 

On Sunday, Recep Tayyip Erdogan won the second round of Turkey's presidential election, securing him another five-year term. His opponent Kemal Kilicdaroglu said it was "the most unfair election in years", though did not contest the result. 

RTUK Chairman Ebubekir Sahin accused the channels of going against the national will to "humiliate our beloved nation." 

“We will not remain silent against these attitudes of those who do not respect the national will, democracy, and election results, and those who insult our people and try to humiliate our beloved nation," Sahin tweeted on May 30. 

Erdogan has come under increased international scrutiny for cracking down on media freedoms during his decades-long rule.  

In the run-up to the vote, the monitoring organisation Reporters Without Borders warned Turkey's leader had "stepped up its attacks on journalists in a bid to deflect attention from the country's economic and democratic decline and to shore up its political base."

Around 90% of the national media is under government control, they say. 

Watchdog RTUK has been accused of being used as a censorship tool to crack down on opposition media recently. 

One of secular rival Kilicdaroglu's election vows was to restore freedom of speech and bring back the qualities of a "civilised world" if elected. 

Erdogan's re-election has re-sparked concerns over media freedom as pro-government TV channels strengthened their grip with coverage favouring the ruler. 

His ruling AK party tabled a new bill last year to criminalise the spread of "disinformation," making it compulsory for platforms to remove content deemed offensive by individuals or the Turkish government.

President Erdogan spoke at the 79th General Assembly of the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) held in Ankara on Tuesday.

Addressing the attendees, the president said the election results were a "decision of destiny" for the country, adding that the people voted for "stability".

He also tackled international relations and security, adding: "Our goal is to establish a belt of security and peace around us from Europe to the Black Sea, from the Caucasus and the Middle East to North Africa."

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